Re: Mirror in space

Jim Varney (
Wed, 22 Jul 1998 22:30:36 -0700

On 22 Jul 98, Eberst wrote:

> Would anyone like to comment on the competence of launching a very large
> mirror into orbit, just days before the great meteor storm that may occur at
> the maximum of the Leonid meteor shower?  I would comment myself, except that
> I don't know the emoticon for rolling around on the floor, holding your sides
> with laughter.

IMHO the Leonids are overrated as a danger to spacecraft.  Even if the 
great 1966 display of 100,000 meteors per hour is repeated, the actual flux 
of meteors is surprisingly thin.  I did a very rough calculation and found 
that 100,000 meteors per hour works out to less than one meteor per square 
mile at LEO heights.

So my guess is the thin mylar mirror will end up with a few holes but won't 
be destroyed.

Even though I don't think the meteoroids will be the demise of the mirror, 
I would still like to see this monstrosity fail.  This project is an 
example of gross light pollution and we should all condemn it as such.  My 
wish will be for the mylar to be hopelessly ripped and tangled when 
unfurled.  Then I'll join you on the floor for a good laugh!

 -- Jim

Jim Varney
Member, Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society
Sacramento Iridiums